GREAT FALLS/FORT BENTON — For the past six years, the Grace Home Veterans Center in Great Falls has been working to change the lives of those who served our country.
Fort Benton local, Tamee Havrilla is finishing her term as State President for VFW Auxiliary made a donation to the organization to further enhance their mission.
“I chose Grace home because it was a great veteran's organization to donate to because they help veterans transition when they need help to when they leave the military and come into the civilian world," Havrilla stated.
Every president of the VFW Auxiliary has to choose a project in which they donate money to a veteran's organization. Additionally, the president chooses to sell several items. Havrilla sold magnets, and coins throughout the year.
The president's term runs for one year, beginning in June and ending exactly 12 months later. Havrilla has been a part of the VFW for 12 years, while serving in the military for 10 years as Guard Reserve and Active Duty.
"I've been very involved in the military because my dad was in the military, my brother was in the military, and my husband was in the military," Havrilla said. "Military is in my blood. I never served in an overseas capacity, so I could never be part of the Post. You have to serve in overseas capacity to be part of the Post of the VFW. I'm an Auxiliary member under my husband, my dad, and my brother because they all served in an overseas capacity, which is considered a foreign war."
The total amount raised to help Grace Home was $3,333.91.
Deborah Kottel serves as the Executive Director for St. Vincent De Paul of Cascade County. She stated the importance this donation serves.
"This is a significant donation for us, which will allow us to directly help men and women who are unhoused. You need housing in order to take the next step in your life. It's very hard to move your life forward when housed on the street."
When speaking on the background of Grace Home and how it started, Kottel said, "we saw a need not just because of Malmstrom, but because this community is overrepresented in the military. There was nothing in the Golden Triangle Region to provide transitional housing for unhoused veterans. It made sense to be able to do this."
Kottel noted that they have been at capacity every day since that time, serving 14 men with private rooms and robust support, such as literacy, financial support, and sobriety.
While Grace Home supports military men, there second facility, Grace Haven aims to support military women and their children.
"It was real clear to us that female veterans are eight times more likely to be homeless, unhoused, and have trauma" Kottel said. "Yet there was not one place in the state of Montana that was dedicated to female unhoused veterans. This is particularly difficult because many of the unhoused female veterans come with children. You have to have a facility that can also accommodate children."
Kottel emphasized that not a single penny of their donations goes to administration.
"We run on a very tight budget. "We don't have federal funds. This is community support. No donation ever goes into administrative overheads. This will go to pay utility bills, pay insurance on the building, have a car that transports people to their job, direct counseling, treatment. It will go to those services."
Grace Haven is expected to open in November, located at 1220 17th Street South.
If you wish to donate money or any items, you can do so directly at Grace Home.
Address: 2211 5th Ave N, Great Falls, MT 59401